Randolph Street: Blue Blanket

July 18th, 2018

 

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Blue blanket…

jonranar2Waiting…

 

jonranargen3

Boredom…

 

 

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Who’s that guy with the camera?

 

All photos © Jon Randolph

jonrandolph.com

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Jim Siergey: The Saviour

July 16th, 2018

A mysterious man appeared in the village of Potmelt. He was wearing a coat two sizes too large and a long, bright cravat that touched the tops of his shoes. Adorning his head was a turban wrapped in a magnificent swirl of orange and yellow iridescence.

He claimed to be a swampdrainer and promised for a certain fee that he would drain the fetid swamp that, long unattended, had grown so large as to almost engulf the village. Not only that, he proclaimed, but he would rid the swamp of all the hideous and noxious creatures that resided therein, the snakes, the skeeters and especially, the rats.

Intrigued, the villagers asked him what price he asked to perform this miraculous feat. Curiously and with great bravado, he asked for not a cent. All it would cost them would be their respect, their loyalty and their love.

It did not take long for the villagers to consider this fee. Since all it would cost them were their emotions, they climbed over one another to shake the man’s hand, hug him, kiss him and bestow compliments galore.

The deal was sealed.

The stranger strode to the main square, climbed and stood upon a stone marker dedicated to the founder of the village and pulled from his pocket what looked to be a tiny dog whistle.

With furrowed brow and reddened cheeks he blew long and hard into the whistle. Not a sound could be heard by any of the villagers but the stranger’s efforts looked so Olympian as he stood above them that they all turned and looked westward toward the swamp with great anticipation and waited.

And waited.

Finally, a scrawny green snake, the size of a twig, wiggled out of the swamp. A young boy ran over and crushed it with the heel of his shoe.

Nothing else emerged from the swamp which remained the same size and still reeked of the same putridness as before. The villagers turned their attention back to the stranger, looking at him anxiously.

He gazed upon them with great earnestness and slowly opened his arms in a welcoming gesture. He then waggled his fingers in a summoning motion.

donaldtrumpbabyballoon

A stranger blew into town…

 

They soon picked up on his cue and began showering him with the most complimentary language they could conjure. Flowers were bestowed upon his feet. Mothers brought their infants forward so he could stroke their cheeks. In unison, the men gave him cheer after cheer. Dogs howled, roosters crowed and birds flew in circles above his head.

The stranger’s face grew brighter than the sun as he broke into a great smile, his chin beaming like a dumpling in the wide expanse of his skin. Rhythmically, his hands would clasp together over his heart and then extend outwards again to compel the crowd to continue their hosannas.

As the tumult reached its zenith, he brought up his arms and majestically placed his forefingers upon his thumbs. As if experiencing a holy act, the wild crowd immediately quieted down.

With great aplomb, the stranger once again displayed his mysterious whistle, showing it off to his audience. He then put it to his lips and blew, longer and harder than before. The throng immediately turned its attention to the swamp.

The green and brown waters began to roil and billow as a large foul-smelling, sickly looking curtain of swamp gas arose and surrounded the bog. It began undulating in a slow, hideous way as if swaying to music that only it could hear.

This was followed by a loud sucking sound, a gurgling, as if a plug had been pulled from a tub.

Hearing this, the villagers began to cheer and once again sing the praises of their swamp-draining hero.

Then, from the malodorous mist slithered the most disgusting concoction of snakes and frogs and newts bedecked in the most putrid shades of greens and browns, each with an obnoxious odor to match. They all made their way toward the villagers who, as one, warily stepped back.

The abominable amphibians were followed by hordes of mosquitoes and flies and insects that flew straight into the crowd, biting and stinging every inch of bare flesh they could find.

Then came the rats. Dozens of them came forward, followed by hundreds and then, thousands. Slick and slimy with yellow fangs bared and red eyes glaring, the rats joined the snakes and insects in overrunning the villagers and the village.

The stranger remained atop the stone marker. His hands were on his hips, his chin thrust forward and his broad smile, once beatific, now more demonic, filled his plentiful face.

“I did what I said I would do!” he crowed. “The swamp is emptied. You got what you wanted.”

Indeed they did. Even more so.

 

Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Adventures In Cable

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Letter From Milo: Great Drunks

July 16th, 2018

Every few years my Lovely Wife becomes dissatisfied with the state of our marriage. Of course, it’s all my fault. I don’t pay enough attention to her. I’m uncommunicative. I drink and smoke too much. My hygiene is not what it should be. My friends are beastly. I’m inconsiderate to her friends. I snore. I say and do stupid things. I fart at inappropriate times. I’m a hopeless loser whose place in hell is pretty much guaranteed.

Okay, so I’m not perfect. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a couple of minor faults. I mean, who the hell gets through this life without developing a couple of character flaws. Even the great ones have chinks in their armor. Winston Churchill was a drunkard. Barack Obama smokes. Michael Jordan is a degenerate gambler. Bill Clinton is a liar. JFK was a womanizer. Louis Armstrong was a pothead. Catherine the Great was overly fond of horseflesh. The list goes on and on.

When I point these facts out to my wife she just laughs at me.

“While you’re at it, why don’t you compare yourself to Jesus and Mother Teresa.”

“Sweetheart, you’re missing the point.”

“There’s no point, you’re just trying to bullshit me.”

“Angel, be reasonable. All I’m saying…”

“I know exactly what you’re saying and I’m not falling for it.”

“Honey…”

“Don’t honey me. We have serious problems in our marriage and we need to do something about them.”

For the next few days after this conversation there is a distinct chill in our household air. Silences, cold shoulders, slamming doors, angry muttering, ugly looks, sleeping on the couch — my lovely wife throws her entire arsenal at me. And that’s just the beginning. I know what’s coming. I’m a scarred veteran of the marital wars. She’s getting ready to drop the big one on me.

“Milo, I made an appointment with a marriage counselor.”

“Shit, not again.”

“If you love me you’ll cooperate.”

“Can I love you and not cooperate?”

“That’s not an option.”

“Shit.”

In nearly three decades of marriage we’ve been to three different marriage counselors. The one thing they all had in common was that they were expensive, charging an hourly rate that would have made Johnny Cochran rewrite his business plan.

Our first counselor was a very attractive woman who we quit seeing when she began going through an ugly divorce, leaving her husband for a much wealthier man. We gave up on the second counselor when my wife got the impression that she was too sympathetic toward me. The third counselor lasted the longest. She was a young woman who seemed to have a good grasp on the marital condition. She understood that marriage is an unnatural state, a con game foisted on humanity by a pitiless, vengeful God. We stopped seeing her when she and her musician boyfriend moved to California.

It recently occurred to me that there are plenty of other poor souls being dragged off to marriage counselors by unappreciative wives. It also occurred to me that I owe it to my fellow married men to help them out in their times of trouble and woe. Therefore, I have compiled a few tips, suggestions, and defensive stratagems that will help them survive even the most savage counseling session.

Agree with everything your wife says. If she tells the marriage counselor that she caught you cooking and eating one of the neighbors, just say, “I can see how that would upset you, dear, and I’ll try to do better in the future.”

Never admit to affairs, gambling debts, drug habits, or that minor indiscretion with Sarah the Slut at last year’s New Year’s Eve party.

In the rare case that you actually like your marriage counselor, immediately begin complaining about her. The more you complain, the more your wife will think the counselor is doing a fine job.

Try to moderate your bad habits for a couple weeks at the onset of counseling. Bring your wife flowers and chocolate. If you can stand it, try to watch Oprah and the Lifetime Channel together, at least twice a week.

Avoid lesbian marriage counselors at all costs. They won’t succumb to your manly charm, are notoriously hard-headed and nearly impossible to bribe.

I’m not saying that these five tips will turn your counseling into a walk in the park. That’s impossible. Marriage counseling, by it’s very nature, is a brutal, take-no-prisoners assault on your manhood. It’s designed to break you down and reshape you into the wimpy, neutered wuss that your wife has always wanted for a husband. What I am saying is that by following these rules, you might, just might, come out of counseling with your manhood and dignity intact. Ignore them at your own peril.

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Jim Siergey: Adventures In Cable

July 12th, 2018

After many years of haughtily exclaiming that I only subscribe to the self-dubbed “People’s TV”, known to the unwashed masses as Antennae TV, televised entertainment that came in free over the public airwaves just like our Founding Fathers expected it to be, I have had to succumb to purchasing basic cable.

Oh, how the haughty have fallen.

We moved out of the city and couldn’t get reception with our rabbit ears so, here we are, almost catching up with modern times.

Since our wading into the churning sea of cable, we have discovered that we don’t really watch all that much on TV. However, now that I’m paying for it, I’ve become determined to find stuff to watch and let me tell you, boy, it ain’t easy.

There’s only so much rehashing of political minutiae that one can watch, TCM has been airing movies that either don’t interest me or I’ve seen too many times to watch again and I get plumb worn out from flicking past so goddamn many channels that I’m forced to go off and (gasp) read a book.

One night the wife and I came across a movie that was just beginning and it sounded interesting.

It was called “The Mountain Between Us” starring Idris Elba and Kate Winslet. I was not fimiliar with Mr. Elba other than reading somewhere that he was being considered to be the first black James Bond. Kate Winslet, on the other hand, was familiar to me.

I’ve seen every Kate Winslet movie ever made!

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Before the was in Mountain, Idris (right) was in The Wire…

 

Actually, no, I haven’t. I have seen several Kate Winslet movies but not all. At least, as far as I know. I only typed that line as a bit of esoteric self-entertainment.

As a youth, I recall watching a stand-up comedienne on TV whose catch phrase, that never became a catch phrase, was “I’ve seen every Ann Sheridan movie ever made!” She would occasionally blurt this out during her routine. For some reason it stuck with me.

Perhaps because, I too, had seen every Ann Sheridan movie ever made.

Again, I have typed an untruth. I have seen some but not nearly as many as I have Kate Winslet movies.

I do not know the name of that comedienne, only her catch phrase. I have yet to come across any one else who is familiar with it and I have tried finding out her name via the internet but have come up empty. I hope someday to learn her identity.

Pause for self reflection and/or stifled yawn.

So, this movie, “The Mountain Between Us” (remember that?) is set in Idaho and Kate is trying to get to Denver for her wedding and Idris is trying to get there to perform brain surgery on a ten year old boy. An oncoming snowstorm has cancelled all flights.

The intrepid Kate finds a private pilot who will fly her there for a fee. She overheard Idris’ plight and invited him to join her in their skirting of aviation safety warnings in order to reach their destinations.

The pilot is Beau Bridges. He, his dog and our two protagonists board his small plane and take off. The storm hits early, Beau has a stroke and the plane crashes into a snow-covered mountain top.

By coincidence, trying to watch what I just described was akin to being in that storm ourselves. The reception was terrible. The picture kept freezing and buffering and after 15 or 20 minutes we disgustedly turned it off.

We could have gotten the same kind of reception with rabbit ears—for free!

But, the movie had hooked us enough to investigate whether it was available via Amazon Prime via Roku, which is our usual television viewing device. It was, but for an extra fee. We decided against spending even more money than we already have for our cable bill.

Cable TV. Phooey.

A couple of weeks later we visited the Munster Library and became members, obtaining shiny new library cards. As we turned from the desk, we saw a stack of DVDs and right there, beckoning to us like a Bonsai-sized burning bush was “The Mountain Between Us”.

We borrowed it, took it home and watched it without interference. It was a good movie.

Public libraries. Don’t forget about them, folks.

This public service announcement has come to you from me, Kate Winslet and the “Oomph Girl”, Ann Sheridan.

 

Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Bad Moon

 

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Randolph Street: Beep Beep

July 11th, 2018

For throwback Wednesday–a holiday we made up–The Third City brings you Jon’s homage to last year’s car show…

1dscf9717Car Show–McCormick Place

 

2DSCF9704Virtual Reality

 

3DSCF9741Shoe Shine Stand

 

4DSCF9797Virtual Racer

 

5DSCF9819Rest Area

 

All photos © Jon Randolph

jonrandolph.com

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Letter From Milo: Movie Man

July 9th, 2018

I’ve lost interest in the movies over the years. I don’t go as often as I used to and when I do plop down ten or more bucks for a movie I always lament the fact that I could have bought a good paperback for less.

There are several reasons for my lack of interest, but I suppose the two main reasons are the actors and special effects. The biggest male stars in cinema today, in my opinion, are little more grown-up child stars, pretty boys who lack the necessary gravitas to carry off some of the roles they play. Actors like Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, etc. seem to have stepped off the pages of Seventeen magazine and onto the big screen, without having lived any sort of life other than in front of the camera. Their faces don’t betray any signs that life has been anything other than sweet to them.

I don’t mean to seem like a curmudgeon, but when I think about actors like Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy, or Clark Gable, I think of faces that reflect the realities of life. I can imagine sharing a foxhole with Bogart, working on an assembly line with Tracy, or having a shot and beer with Gable. The only thing I can imagine doing with Brad Pitt is asking if he would care to swap wives for the weekend.

Special effects have also ruined the movies for me. Everything seems to be done by animation, computerized wizardry, or some other devilish technology. Car chases, bombs blasts, entire cities destroyed by meteors, terrorists, or aliens from distant galaxies, are all generated by coffee-fueled geeks sitting in front of computer monitors. I don’t even know why they use actors anymore. As for stunt men, they’re a dying breed, spending more time in unemployment line than in front of movie cameras.

That said, my wife and I are preparing to go to an Oscar party tonight at Simon and Beth‘s house. It’s an annual affair with plenty of great food, an overabundance of alcohol and good company. As much as I grouse about going to this party, I actually enjoy attending. I don’t get out as often as I used to and this party is a chance to socialize, renew acquaintances, and make new ones.

The only thing I don’t like about the party is that there is a mandatory Oscar pool. Everyone puts in five bucks and fills out a form picking the winners in a dozen categories. The person who picks the most winners collects all the money. I’ve never even come close to winning and I don’t expect to do any better this year. I’ve only seen one of the nominated films and wasn’t impressed with it. I can’t even remember who was in it, what it was about, or whether it was in black and white or color.

As we get ready ready to go to the party, my lovely wife and I have our traditional pre-party discussion.

“Do me a favor, don’t drink too much tonight.”

“I’ll try to restrain myself.”

“Last year you got drunk and pinched Sarah on the ass.”

“I was hoping you’d forgotten that.”

“And don’t tell any of your dirty jokes, either.”

“Some people enjoy them.”

“Just you and Steve, and that’s because he’s usually drunk, too. Everybody else is just grossed out.”

“Jeez, why don’t I just stay home?”

One last thing, don’t start any arguments, please.”

“When did I start an argument?”

“Last year and the year before.”

“God, you’ve got a hellacious memory.”

“And stay away from that slut, Sarah.”

“Anything you say dear.”

What surprises me is how seriously some of the people at the party take the Oscars. The immortal wit, Oscar Levant, once said that ballet is like baseball for fairies. The same can be said for the Oscars. It’s like the Super Bowl for cinemaphiles. God forbid I make some remark, which I probably will, denigrating the occasion. I’ll get ugly looks from half the people in the room and insults from the other half, which will not bother me in the least. I enjoy provoking people.

Still, I have to be careful. If I get completely out of line or offend too many people I might not get invited back to the party next year. And, as I mentioned earlier, I don’t get out as often as I used to. I’d hate to cross Simon and Beth’s Oscar party off my social calendar.

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Randolph Street: Hard At Work

July 4th, 2018

These pictures are of the “Tough Enough” women’s boxing team competing in the first Chicago Golden Gloves that allowed it. They were for a story by Big Mike Glab for the Reader.

All photos © Jon Randolph

jonrandolph.com

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